Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

You know, I’ve been thinking.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if every superhero game you played was as great as Arkham Asylum? As breathtaking as Arkham City? This is a tall order. I know. I KNOW.

I mean, let’s face it. Half of WHY Arkham Asylum is so great is because the source material was so rich. It’s like the Batman universe just jumped off the frickin’ page. You just couldn’t believe how well Batman and the assorted characters associated with him fit into this sort of almost survival horror game. They almost seem like they’re SUPPOSED to be in a video game. Meant to be.

Created for it, specifically, as surely as any character was created for Resident Evil, Metal Gear or Silent Hill. The Arkham games just feel RIGHT when you play them. The characters seem alive and fresh and interesting. It’s so addictive.

Now, I loved X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. If only because they are loaded up with Marvel trivia.

But let’s face it. There are very few outings into the superhero universe that compare to this. It’s hard to play Captain America: Super Solider or Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters after that experience, really.

I want them ALL to be this good. This well thought out.

I want a Flash game where you feel like you really are faced with the kind of weird, fast-paced, mind-puzzles that Flash has to take on. I want a Spider-man game that’s as FUNNY as Arkham is SCARY. I want Thor and Wonder Woman video games that feel more like you’re playing Dragon Age or Skyrim more than you’re playing some hopped up version of Super Mario Bros. (no disrespect intended).

See, it’s just that Rocksteady Studios seemed to take so much time to put effort into pulling THEMES out of their game that went beyond "you can pretend to be Batman and feel bad-ass."

Arkham’s got a huge cast of characters and you feel like Batman is just one character in it. An important character, maybe, but it’s like Kratos from God of War. You LOVE Kratos, but what you really love is seeing the choices he makes, seeing his interactions with the other characters. You’re playing one part of a BIG STORY. An important part. But just a part.

THAT’S how Arkham City feels. It’s more about Gotham City than Batman. And somehow? Nothing about Batman and these characters feels static in the story.

I mean, in general characters almost never die in comics. And the bad guys almost never get caught, give up and go to jail. Basically, no matter how much you read, things tend to stay exactly the same, time after time.

Even though you KNOW that the Batman comic is going to be filled with the same characters it has been for eighty years for eighty more years, for some reason when you play that game things feel open ended. Could somebody die? Could one of the characters change? In reality, maybe not, but you FEEL like it’s POSSIBLE in those games. So you get drawn into the story.

And maybe that’s the new ‘art’ to comic book story-telling. It’s the art of telling a mostly static story that isn’t going to change over time, but concealing that that’s what you’re doing. Making a story like that feel alive. Making it feel like it’s got crescendos and drops and everything that any fiction novelist would use if they were writing a book from scratch.

Regardless you walk away from those games feeling like you've just "lived" in Gotham City. And it was scary. And that felt GOOD because that made you feel more than just a passing interest in these characters.

My only hope is to one day live in a world where every superhero game is as painstakingly crafted as this one was.

Could it be done? There are some that it would be tough for, I admit. But I think it will be hard for us, from here on out, to settle for less than what we got from this.